Winter is coming. The weather is getting colder and thus comes the end of swimsuit season (at least for most of us). Now comes the preparations for winter, a time to build muscle. Most people will turn to rice, potatoes, or breads to increase their calorie consumption from carbohydrates, believing them to be ideal additions to their muscle building (anabolic) diets.
Carbohydrates are an important part of your diet for both fitness and body composition, but also for your general health. What if I told you there was a carbohydrate source packed with vitamins and minerals, that you probably haven’t heard of? This unfamiliar carbohydrate source is buckwheat.
Buckwheat is a food you may or may not know about, but most people relate it to cereals or mistake it for a grain. In reality, buckwheat is actually a fruit seed related to rhubarb and sorrel. This makes buckwheat an incredible substitute for people trying to avoid grains or for those who are sensitive to wheat and other gluten containing grains.
Historically, buckwheat is a native plant of Northern Europe. It can be identified by its small size, similar to that of wheat kernels. Additionally, it maintains a very unique triangular shape. When cooked, buckwheat can be served as a porridge or prepared in meals as an alternative to rice. When ground into flour, it is available in light and the more nutritionally dense dark forms. This leads us to our next topic. How healthy is it?
Obviously, we’ve mentioned that it is gluten-free. If following a gluten-free diet, take notice of the gluten-free products you purchase because you will most likely see buckwheat as an ingredient in many of them. Fun fact: Buckwheat has even been used as a grain-substitute in gluten-free beers!
So, let’s get down to the important parts. What does buckwheat have going for it?
- Grows quickly and easily without artificial fertilizers or pesticides.
- The plant absorbs less water and take less nutrients from the soil than other crops.
What does this mean to you? These factors make buckwheat easy to grow and less detrimental to the land – benefiting you and the planet!
- Contains nutraceutical compounds
- Rich in vitamins and minerals
- Well balanced amino acid composition
- 80% unsaturated fat content (40% of which are polyunsaturated fats)
- Rich source of dietary fiber
- High in antioxidants
Buckwheat is packed with goodness! In fact, let’s look at the vitamins and minerals. Buckwheat just so happens to be rich in trace minerals, including manganese, magnesium, and copper. Additionally, its packed with vitamins, such as vitamin B1/B2/B6, folate, pantothenic acid, thiamin, choline, and niacin just to name a few. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for some buckwheat porridge right now!
- Lowers risk of high cholesterol
- Lowers risk of high blood pressure
- Applications in the prevention of obesity and diabetes
- Helps prevent gallstones
- Decreases the risk of Cardiovascular Disease
- Reduces the risk of various types of cancer
- Inhibition of Arthritis and other inflammatory conditions
- Suppressed allergic responses
So… buckwheat is pretty great, huh?
So you are probably interested in the basics of buckwheat right? Let’s look at the breakdown.
Just ¼ of a cup (60 grams) of raw buckwheat contains around 140 calories. This breaks down to 32 grams of carbohydrates with 5 grams of fiber, 1.5 grams of fat, and 6 grams of protein. Can you believe that we are only talking about ¼ of a cup?
The Genetic Factors
Now, understanding your genetics can play a key role in knowing if and how you would benefit from the consumption of buckwheat. This becomes very relevant when we look at certain genes outlined in the chart below.
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Buckwheat is a nutritional powerhouse. If you are looking to gain some muscle this fall or want to lose weight, buckwheat has all the right stuff to help you do so. Why not try it?
PEPPER PUMPKINS RECIPE: (Orange Peppers Cut Like Pumpkins and Stuffed with Buckwheat Tabbouleh)
- 3 large orange peppers - cut off tops, de-seeded, and carved like pumpkins
- 2 red peppers - finely chopped
- Buckwheat - 1 cup
- Spring onion - 1/2 cup finely chopped
- 1 cup fresh Herbs (Flat Leaf Parsley & Mint leaves) - Chopped
- 1 cup tomatoes - de-seeded and finely chopped
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Olive oil - 2 tablespoons
- Hummus - 1 cup
Boil 1 cup of buckwheat with 2 cups of water and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool
Mix all herbs and chopped vegetables in a bowl with the olive oil and lemon juice
When buckwheat is cool, gently stir into mixture
Carve the peppers
Stuff the pepper with the buckwheat tabbouleh
Season with salt and pepper
* Serve with hummus
Buckwheat. (n.d.). Retrieved October 17, 2016, from http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=11
Christa, K., & Soral-Śmietana, M. (2008). Buckwheat grains and buckwheat products–nutritional and prophylactic value of their components–a review. Czech Journal of Food Science, 26(3), 153-162.
Fabjan, N., Rode, J., Košir, I. J., Wang, Z., Zhang, Z., & Kreft, I. (2003). Tartary buckwheat (Fagopyrum tataricum Gaertn.) as a source of dietary rutin and quercitrin. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 51(22), 6452-6455.
Iuorno MJ, Jakubowicz DJ, Baillargeon JP, et al. (2002). Effects of d-chiro-inositol in lean women with the polycystic ovary syndrome. Endocrine Practice 8(6), 417-23.
Wang, C., Catlin, D. H., Starcevic, B., Heber, D., Ambler, C., Berman, N., ... & Hull, L. (2005). Low-fat high-fiber diet decreased serum and urine androgens in men. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 90(6), 3550-3559.